Since relocating the Marwood studio away from London, to Devon, a few years ago; We have been inspired by a wider network of creatives. Having travelled to Cornwall frequently in the past two years, we have met some talented people based in Falmouth, one of them being interior architect, Kathryn Tyler. This vibrant town, occupied by ex-students from Falmouth University, reminds us of our East London beginnings... art spaces and shops filled with promise, new ideas and determination. It's exciting to discover these hubs, away from London.
Working with local photographer Victoria May Harrison, we captured Tyler in her Scandinavian inspired home, which she designed and project managed, as part of the BBC series 'Grand Designs'. Tyler's natural style, along with the backdrop of her home, was the perfect setting for Marwood's new scarves and socks.
We ask Tyler about how her career began, what excites her about Falmouth and London and what designers have influenced her along the way.
Interview by Becky French
Photography by Victoria May Harrison
Interviewee: Kathryn Tyler
BF: Having settled in Falmouth after studying graphic design at Falmouth uni, how did you transition to becoming an interior architect and what does that entail?
KT: Day to day my studio work focuses on the interior architecture and detailing of spaces ranging from private residences to bars, restaurants. I was working for a local graphic design company after graduating and one of the clients casually asked if we could also design the interiors of his restaurant and my boss said yes. I was tasked with designing the project and fully embraced the challenge, opportunely my mother had recently retired to Cornwall and previously worked as an interior architect so she taught me the basics and everything else I learnt as I went. Ever since then interiors became my main focus.
BF: You mentioned that you have always worked between Cornwall and London. What part have both places played in influencing you and building your career?
KT: Cornwall has been home for over half my life now and is where I set up Linea Studio. Initially, my work was only Cornwall based and I think I have always been very fortunate to encounter an incredibly supportive community of both professionals and friends here. On my first few projects, I welcomed a lot of technical guidance from people I was brought in to collaborate with from architects to building contractors so I will always be incredibly grateful for the on the job education that I received. Growing up in London meant I have always had a strong connection with the city and I guess my attention was first drawn towards architecture and design by my mother there as she used to take me to the RCA degree shows which exposed me to the world of design and I also used to go to her office in South Kensington after school sometimes and watch her at her drawing board working with an amazing array of ink, set squares and stencils.
BF: When it comes to space and creating environments for clients, what is your approach and process?
KT: As I am not formally trained my process for every project is incredibly different and more instinctive than a pre-prescribed set of steps. I strive to offer an individual and personal service and be a single point of call for all the design, sourcing and project coordination. Building lasting relationships with clients to understand their way of thinking and lifestyle in order to create designs which suit both their personal and practical requirements is something I both enjoy and think is critical. In most cases, I see myself as more of an art director and always hope clients feel like each project is a creative collaboration throughout.
BF: Grand Designs covered the design and build of your home in Falmouth. It's a beautiful space that is incredibly social and focussed around your family and friends. What were the priorities that your home had to provide when designing it? What was the most satisfying part of the process? Is there anything you would do differently next time?
KT: Thank you! I must admit I was only 23 when I started designing the house and then I had little idea about what exactly a typical house design needed - some of my original concepts were very naive. The design was derived from some simple geometric blocks of the rooms I wanted and the minimum size I was happy for them to be - I played around with the form for a long time. When I started I was mildly obsessed with the work of architect Geoffrey Bawa following a trip to Sri Lanka so tried to shoehorn a courtyard into a plot far too narrow for a courtyard, but finally I sliced off half the courtyard, expanded the width of the spaces and the basic form as it is now was found.
Geoffrey Bawa sketch.
The whole process was pretty magical and satisfying - from the point of discovering that we had a free 35m plot, I remember being incredibly excited as it was always on my list of things to do in life and the opportunity was presenting itself far earlier than I could have ever hoped. Clearing the land and getting an understanding of the potential views made it all feel real. As we were always trying to be financially savvy - we were getting our hands dirty and doing all the grunt work which although painful at times definitely made us feel we had contributed. I love being on building sites and seeing everything evolve - I took an insane amount of photos throughout and made a kind of online flick book at the end which is something I look back on often. But I guess the final days of the fit out were the most memorably satisfying seeing all the spaces that had been living in my head coming together, the fitted furniture and staircase being installed by my friend David, the cast concrete wall piece by my friend Sophie being mounted and all the mid-century furniture finally coming out of the garage after years of accumulation.
Seven years later there isn't really anything I would change about the house other than have been more meticulous about some of the finish details but that is all rectifiable when we finally have time to address it!
BF: You mentioned that you are currently taking a year sabbatical from your business. During your last sabbatical, 7 years ago, you project managed your Grand Designs project. What are you looking to do this time?
KT: I saved hard for this sabbatical so in the last few months I have been having a proper break, travelling a lot and going to and working at festivals. After 14 years of running my business, I was definitely losing momentum so I am relishing this opportunity to stop and explore other opportunities. There are a few projects I am researching at the moment ... one, in particular, I am quite excited about as I was lucky enough to build my own home I am looking to find a simple way of bringing local people together to buy land collectively and build so as to make the whole process more affordable and less daunting. As a self-indulgence, I am hoping to learn to DJ but have yet to find someone to teach me!
BF: What career path would you take in a second life?
KT: There is rarely a day when I don't have a camera attached to the front of my face at some point - deep down I always wanted to be a Photographer.
BF: Who or what inspires you in life? And why?
KT: The passion people have for making and creating is what inspires me most ... looking back on all the great architects, engineers and designers throughout history who have made our physical world and kept it in constant progression. It always brings me so much pleasure meeting someone who has evolved their found passion to a point that they just want to make or do whatever that may be over and over again exploring its potential every day.
KT: I did always hope to stumble across somewhere but the longer I have lived in Cornwall I have always felt that nothing compares. That elusive ideal place would ideally give that instantaneous sense of home and will also need to be somewhere that tickles my aesthetic sweeping landscape taste buds. And people are incredibly important - I think that will be the one thing I never find anywhere else - our friends in Cornwall are just a wonderful lot and I think I would struggle to find a comparable community with such diversity, stimulation and love anywhere.
BF: What occasion in your life would you name as your most significant and memorable?
KT: Moving to University - the fear and excitement, the not really knowing what the hell to do and sitting in my room on my own too scared to talk to anyone and starting the process of finding the person I was to become, finding a voice and a new place to live for the last 20 years!
BF: What occasion has been a highlight so far this year? Or is there one approaching?
KT: This year has been saturated with amazing experiences so it is hard for me to pick out one, however, I am planning a trip to Japan at the end of the year which is somewhere I have longed to visit. Planning trips is also a bit of a geeky passion so that is taking up some of my daydreaming time at the moment.
BF: Finally, what song would you like to add to our Marwood studio playlist?
KT: Makeba by Jain ... it has been my go-to happy song this year thanks to Frankie who played it while DJing on New Year's Eve!
To see Kathryn’s work, visit her website: www.linea-studio.co.uk
See photos here of Kathryn's home 'Corkellis House'.